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Festival doesn’t bring customers to businesses

KINGWOOD —  Preston County business owners said sales were  down substantially this year compared with previous Buckwheat Festival weeks.

Sarah Davis, at Down Home Diner, which is next  to Fireman’s Field, said the restaurant was busy Saturday and Sunday but not  Thursday and Friday. She said the restaurant didn’t sell much during lunch and dinner.

“Saturday and Sunday helped a lot,” she said. “We mostly sold buckwheat cakes. Hamburgers are usually a big item. This year, we stocked up on hamburger but we didn’t sell many. One day, we sold two.”

 “We sold a few Hungry Man breakfasts and French toast,” Davis said. “We had funnel cake fries we got in for the festival. That and the buckwheat cakes carried us through.”

Jean Guillot, who owns The Preston County Inn, which is on the parade route, said business was good Thursday but fell off Friday and Saturday.

“I cut my supply orders down. In past festivals we had good Sunday crowds. But not this year. We closed early,” he said. “You can’t rely on it (the festival). It’s only four days a year. You have to plan for the other 51 weeks.”

Guillot said he was expecting a smaller crowd, so he wasn’t disappointed.

“We did about half of what we normally do,” he said. “But half is better than nothing. There were not as many people, but we had nice weather and the ones that were here enjoyed themselves.”

Guillot said the rooms at the inn were all booked but not as many out-of-state guests or  bands came to the festival.

“A lot of locals didn’t want to risk their health,” he said. “The fire department did a wonderful job, considering the problems they faced, to have a safe festival. They provided masks and hand sanitizer. I believe they should get credit for taking the precautions, so we could have a festival.”

Incredible Creations, owned by Bob and Robine Riffle, on E. Price Street is also on the parade route.

Bob said the crowd was down from 2019 (there was no festival in 2020).

“We did well with ceramics, because a lot of people come out for arts and crafts,” he said. “Our mini doughnut sales were way down.”

He said mini doughnuts are a tradition at the Buckwheat Festival.

“It started way back when Jim Walker was a fireman. He had the mini doughnuts down on the grounds. After his wife started making her teddy bear lollipops he was short of help, and I started helping him. Later, he asked me if I wanted to buy the mini doughnut business and I did. I’ve kept up the tradition.”

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